CONYERS - Salem baseball coach Chris Davis didn't have to search very hard for the difference in Monday's 5-2 loss to Loganville at Henson-Carr Legion Field.
"Missed opportunities," Davis said. "Stephen (Brown) pitched his butt off for us, but we had guys on base all night long and just couldn't get but two runs. All of a sudden, in that last inning, they got an opportunity and they didn't waste it."
Loganville (13-3 overall, 11-3 in 8-AAAA) rallied for four runs in the top of the seventh to claim a 5-2 victory and pull a half-game ahead of Salem (12-3, 10-3) for second place in Region 8-AAAA.
Brown was nearly flawless on the mound the first four innings, allowing just two base runners on an error and an intentional walk.
Meanwhile, Salem's offense broke up the scoreless tie in the bottom of the third.
Senior Drew Dentler belted a one-out home run to right-center field off Loganville starting pitcher Drew Payne, his second homer of the season against the Red Devils.
Jake Dyer, the next batter, was hit by Payne's next offering and then swiped second and reached third on a wild pitch. With two outs, Brandon Crumbley delivered an RBI double over the left fielder's head for a 2-0 lead.
Josh Bailey followed with a single and T.J. Cash walked to load the bases, but Jonathan Brewer popped out to left to end the threat.
That missed opportunity was the first of four missed scoring opporunities for the Seminoles. For four straight innings, starting with the third and ending with the sixth, Salem stranded eight runners on base, including six in scoring position.
The sixth inning was probably the Seminoles' best chance to score. Brewer led off with a walk, and, after a passed ball, Dustin Dunlop moved him to third with a single.
But Salem failed to push a run across the plate with the heart of its batting order.
"I think the sixth inning was key," Davis said. "We had runners on first and third and no outs, and we didn't get anything. We have to have better at-bats in that situation.
"It's a long week, so I guess we'll definitely find out what we're made of after tonight. We don't have to dwell on it. We have to be out there tomorrow (at Jackson County). This is our first game of the second half (of region play). We've got a long way to go. We have to keep playing them one at a time."
Loganville's Jacob Jonhson broke up Brown's no-hitter with a two-out single in the top of the fifth. Two batters later, Blake McCullers cut Salem's lead in half with an RBI single.
Dyer replaced Brown on the mound and escaped the jam with an inning-ending force out at second.
In the seventh, Loganville loaded the bases against Dyer with no outs. Chris Lew tied the game with a sacrifice fly for the second out. Luke Baker and Chance Bridges followed with RBI singles to put the Red Devils in front 4-2. Loganville added its final run on an error.
Salem returns to action today at Jackson County before traveling to Habersham Central on Wednesday and Madison County on Friday.
Jeff Gillespie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.